I found out my fabric shop rents a LA for only $8/hour. Any time I have a crazy idea, I try to talk it through with my husband, but he couldn't wrap his head around this one.... So, what do you think?
I have to drive an hour to get there, so I want to make sure it's worth my while!
I love to FMQ on my own sewing machine, but I'd be happy to skip the basting
I usually just buy quilt tops, instead of making them
I haven't used a machine-quilting frame. I tried at home, but couldn't get it on there right, and I had no help with how to do simple things, like change the bobbin. Using the one at the shop sounds like a great way to learn without a heavy investment.
I know it could take years to get good on it, so here's my crazy idea....
What if I used my good backing and batting and top instead of sheets or muslin fabric? However, instead of "real" thread, I just use water-soluble thread? If I quilt it on the LA there with w.s. thread, then bring it home and quilt it for real on my own machine?
The advantages I see to this: I can buy backing and batting there (I do anyway) and I get help loading it on the frame and I don't have to store it at my house until I'm ready to baste. I can quilt it good/bad/ugly and it won't matter, because it will just wash out. I get to learn how to use the expensive LA and decide if I like it or not. I get my quilt "basted" really well so when I start quilting it for real, it shouldn't pucker. I have the perfect quilt to experiment on: it's gigantic and I have almost no money invested in it (top was free and backing was only $1/yard) and the thought of basting it keeps it on the bottom of the pile.
Disadvantages: I believe $8/hour is a very good rate, but it can add up. My plan is ultimately to be able to do several quilts in a morning/afternoon but I know at first I'll be lucky to get one done. So adding $24 to an already expensive quilt seems like a luxury. Especially considering that it won't "finish" it, and I can achieve the same results with a $5 pack of safety pins. I want to count the trip as a disadvantage, but in reality, I go there anyway, I just need to make sure I can reserve the LA when I'm there. If I buy wide backing on the same trip, I won't be able to wash it, and sometimes, that stuff causes my arms to break out. But since it's just on the backing, I should be ok. I'd just have to hope that shrinking ends up ok.
I don't plan on doing it every week, or even every month. Would I even really be able to pick up the skill of LA'ing if I only do it for 4 hours every 2-3 months? I've never used dissolving thread, is it difficult to use? And does it really last until you wash it out (or spill tea on it haha)? Would I be able to press the quilt (no steam, of course) with it?
And last question: Is this even a good idea? It's very early in the morning, so I'm sure there are things I should already know that I'm not thinking of, and things that I don't already know that I need to.